Many San Diego cats and dogs don't receive the dental care they need for oral and overall health. Our vet team gives you 10 useful tips for helping your pet reach and maintain optimal dental health!
1. Don't Miss Dental Check-Ups!
It's imperative to your dog or cat's overall health and longevity (and avoiding extensive vet bills down the road to treat advanced oral health issues) to take them in for their annual dental health check. These visits provide a great chance for your vet to evaluate your pet’s dental health and should start early before the animal develops dental problems.
2. Professional Dental Cleanings Are Essential!
Part of your pet's dental check-up will likely include scaling (removal or build-up and tartar from the tooth's surface and below the gum line) and polishing under anesthesia. This cleaning not only makes your cat or dog's teeth appear cleaner but also gives your vet team a chance to closely observe any emerging or ongoing dental issues.
3. Oral or Dental Treatments for Pets
If your pet has ongoing halitosis, gingivitis or advanced gum disease, or dental disease, your vet may recommend several available dental treatments or remove damaged, rotting, or otherwise troublesome teeth.
4. Daily Brushing & Oral Hygiene
If your pet will put up with it, brushing their teeth every day is the best at-home dental care you can give them. To slow or prevent the plaque and tartar build-up that can lead to dental disease, aim for 5 times a week.
Start by getting a toothbrush for dogs or cats and a special pet toothpaste that won’t make them sick. Slowly introduce them to the process and be patient until they become more comfortable with the routine. (If your pet is struggling to adjust or the process is stressful, speak to your vet about other methods of keeping their teeth clean at home.)
Use a small amount of the pet toothpaste, brush gently in a circular motion, and (if your pet allows it), aim for 30-60 seconds on each side of their mouth. Make sure you reward your pet for their good behavior so that they associate tooth brushing with positive reinforcement.
5. The Gums Are Important!
As with humans, your cat or dog's oral health can benefit from gentle gum massage while you're cleaning their teeth. Signs of tooth decay usually begin with red or inflamed gums, so this is also a good opportunity to monitor your pet's gum health.
6. Dental Diet for Your Pet Can Help
Your vet can give you specific recommendations for dental diet foods that could be effective for your canine companion or feline friend.
There are many high-quality dry foods for cats and dogs that are formulated to control plaque build-up on their teeth and inside their mouths. This is usually made up of larger pieces of kibble fibers aligned similarly to toothbrush bristles, to clean your pet's teeth while they are eating. These special foods can also potentially slow the progression of dental disease.
7. Offer Your Dog or Cat Dental Treats & Chews
Your vet's advice will be helpful here, as there is a huge variety of dental treats and chews that can reduce plaque but cannot prevent it. Trained, experienced veterinarians can advise about which products will be helpful for your dog or cat.
8. Get Your Pet Dental Chew Toys
Your pet's dental and oral health can benefit greatly from playtime! Most pet supply stores sell a wide range of toys made specifically for your cat or dog to play with and chew on. These toys are made to clean the teeth by removing plaque and discouraging tartar buildup.
9. Make Sure Your Pet Has Fresh, Clean Water
Ensuring that your cat or dog has access to clean, fresh water every day is another easy way to help them maintain their oral and overall health. Drinking water helps to wash away food debris and bacteria from your pet's mouth after they eat, which lessens the likelihood of them developing gingivitis and experiencing discomfort.
10. Stinky Breath Isn't Always Normal!
While our dogs' and cats' breath may not be minty-fresh when their oral health is at its best, it's important not to ignore things like noticeably bad breath when your animal companion barks, meows, or yawns right in your face. Beyond being unpleasant, it could be a sign of underlying oral health issues.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.